Has email become a distraction? SelfControl is an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time. For example, you could block access to your email, Facebook, and Twitter for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the web.
Let’s get started:
Go ahead and download SelfControl here and unpack the archive. It would make sense to move the file to your Application folder. Launch SelfControl as you would any application and you will be presented with a very minimalist window with only the bare essentials.
Get your Blacklist going:
Now it is time to eliminate all those addictive disruptive technologies. It is really pretty simple, just click the “Edit Blacklist” button and you will be presented with a “Domain Blacklist” window. If you are not a techie and the the term “Domain Blacklist” scares you, fear not my friend. Take a gander at the screen shot below and you will see that I listed the domains that seem to distract me during the course of the work day.
You want to stop being tempted by Facebook? Simple, just click the “+” symbol on the lower left portion of the window, and when the text box becomes available, simply type “facebook.com” (without the quotes) into the box. Wash, rinse and repeat with domains such as twitter.com and so on. That’s it!
Okay, all the heavy lifting is done and it is time to tune out all the distractions and get your Zen on. Click the “Start” button when you are ready.
Here’s the catch: once started, it can not be undone by the application, by deleting the application, or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out.
The Magic Hour:
I set my timer for 60 minutes and the above screen shot shows the countdown. That feeling of bliss you are experience is not uncommon and you really need to learn to embrace it. Do you feel better?
So who is the Mad Man that Created this?
Steve Lambert created SelfControl while at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology. It is free software licensed under the GPL,with the source code and wiki on Github, and ticket system on the eyebeam dev site. Steve wants you to feel free to make improvements, linux ports, and the like. Steve also wants to give a shout out to Charlie Stigler for developing the application.
Why did Steve make this?
Because he needed it, same as you. Charlie Stigler was kind enough to code it based on Steve’s sketches for the handsome fee of $125 (I think he charges more now). And now its being giving it away (and the code too) because it needs to be useful.
Steve is an artist, and as anyone who creates things knows; the time you can block out to get focused work done is invaluable.
I would highly suggest giving SelfControl a shot and let the stress roll off you. Go ahead, you deserve it.